Sometimes, we get so used to saying certain words that we forget how odd they are. English speakers turned to the internet to share eye-opening (and hilarious) strange words in the English language.
Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.
1: Man’s Best Friend
Although we use it almost every day, the word “dog” is the strangest word in the English language to one person due to its mysterious origins. They explain that since English is a Germanic language, it would seem we’d use “hound” more often. “”Dog,’ however, appears to be unique to English and not traceable to any other predecessor.”
2: Not So Special
One person observed that “extraordinary” doesn’t exactly hold its meaning when you break it up. “It says ‘extra ordinary,’ which is literally the opposite of its definition.”
3: Long Throw
An English speaker says “defenestrate,” which means to throw something out the window, is their favorite word. Another agreed, saying it’s their favorite non-curse word. “Why do we need this word? But I’m so happy we have it.”
4: Cough It Up
“Phlegm” is a strange English word to one wordsmith. A quick thinker jumped into the conversation, commenting, “Great word to play with, hangman.”
5: All Mixed Up
“Discombobulated” is one person’s favorite strange word in the English language. At the Milwaukee airport, “They have a ‘recombobulation area’ for you to get your stuff together after taking it out of bags and emptying your pockets.” Now that’s a mouthful!
6: Snap, Crackle, Pop
Over 250 people agreed that onomatopoeia is one of the strangest English words. “Fun fact: onomatopoeia is named after the sounds one makes when they say it out loud,” one person added.
7: Wait in Line
The unique spelling of “queue” earned it the strangest word prize by a few folks. “Yes,” one agreed, “but I enjoy the fact that ‘queueing’ has the longest series of vowels in English.”
8: By Chance
A non-native English speaker says the strangest word to them is coincidence. “Every time I forget what it means.” Another person replied, “What a coincidence! I was about to write that one!”
9: Opposites Attract
In English, words that describe themselves are called autological. “For instance, the word ‘short’ is a short word. So it’s autological,” one person explains. Heterological is the opposite, a word that doesn’t describe itself. They think that’s why it’s the weirdest word. “The only conclusion possible is that the word ‘heterological’ is both heterological and autological. And also neither. Because English is weird.” Do you follow?
10: Set Sail
Whether or not you’re lucky enough to sail on a yacht in your lifetime, most of us can agree that “yacht” is a pretty strange word in English. “It’s pronounced ‘yaught’ like ‘caught’ with a C. Doesn’t make any sense,” one person said.
11: Stars Align
One astronomy lover mentioned “syzygy” as the strangest English word, “meaning an alignment of 3 or more astronomical bodies, e.g., the Earth, Moon, and Sun.” Someone responded that it’s their go-to word when they want to be mean while playing hangman.
12: Not Quite
“Meringue. I mean, what is it?” one person asked about the popular whipped treat. Trying to be helpful, someone told them, “It’s a dance.” “That’s merengue,” another clarified. “Which, come to think of it, is a variant thereof, so your point stands.”
13: Ponder It
It may not seem strange initially, but the word “only” broke a few commenters’ brains after sitting with it. “Repeat it a handful of times. Think about what it means. It’s just a weird word.”
14: Get Uncomfortable
Everybody’s favorite word to hate, “moist,” got a shoutout from a few people in the comments. “I love how uncomfortable that word makes people,” one deviant said.
15: That’s A New One
Meaning “to be dependent on charity/charitable,” one person says “eleemosynary” is a strange one they’ve heard. “Sometimes I feel the English language gets carried away creating complex words for simple terms.”
Sometimes, you can’t help but laugh when someone says something unrecognizable. English speakers share their favorite butchered words that sound nothing like they look on paper.
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